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Governor in favor of Canadian Opel bid

THE governor of the German state where General Motors' Opel unit is based indicated yesterday he favors a bid by Canada's Magna International for the European auto maker, and was critical of an offer from Fiat.

Auto parts maker Magna, Italy's Fiat SpA and New York-based buyout firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC submitted plans to GM on Wednesday to acquire or invest in Opel.

Fiat wants to wrap GM Europe, including Opel and British brand Vauxhall, into a global car making powerhouse along with Chrysler LLC.

"I think there is a certain ranking, in which the offer from the Magna group is certainly the one that is closest to the hopes and wishes of, I think, many in German politics but also among employees," Hesse state governor Roland Koch said.

He added: "Some are a little disappointed that Fiat's offer is a very long way from what one perhaps hoped for in some places."

New markets

Koch, a deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, did not elaborate in detail on the strengths and weaknesses of the various bids.

However, he said, Magna is "counting very strongly on being able to win new markets and new customers with new ideas, while other concepts instead assume rationalization."

The Fiat bid in particular has raised worries about potentially large job losses.

Opel parent GM faces a June 1 deadline to restructure or file for bankruptcy. Opel employs some 25,000 people in Germany, nearly half GM Europe's total workforce.

German officials stress that it is up to GM to choose Opel's investor, while Berlin will decide whether and how to lend state support to the selected bidder.


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